How To Clean A Hoarder’s House Fast | Effective Solutions
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A hoarder’s house is usually full of unnecessary things. If there are any dangerous items and you try to clean it by yourself without proper guidance, then it can be harmful to you.
When you decide to clean a hoarder’s house, at first, you need to remove the junk. You can donate items if they are usable or just call the trash disposal team. Once the house is free from unusable things, then you can start your cleaning work.
Best way to clean a hoarder’s house
Cleaning a hoarding can be challenging or the toughest job if you are doing it for the first time. A proper guideline will help you to clean the hoarder’s house in the fastest time. Besides, some comprehensive cleaning strategies can help you to drive the cleaning job safely. You can follow the below steps:
- Evaluate the area to understand the situation
The prime problem of a hoarder is unable to identify the actual value of cluttered things. They continue gathering a tremendous amount of useless and valueless stuff into their house, and the result is unusual cluttering. This cluttering turns into a hoard when the person starts to accumulate the same thing again and again, which basically has no value.
When you decide to clean a hoarder’s house, you should assess the area first to identify the actual amount of valueless things that you may have to throw away in the trash. Before you attempt to clean, this pre-investigation will help you to find if there is any dangerous or harmful thing in the hoard.
Once you investigate the condition of the home, ensure your safety. Arrange all safety support that you may need for your overall protection during cleaning. Sometimes hoard fills with dangerous pathogens so these safety supports will protect you from any unexpected incident.
- Make a cleaning schedule
Once you figure out the actual situation of the hoard, you should make a work schedule to reach your target. You may have already understood that cleaning a hoarder is a time-consuming job, and you may need several days to complete it. So make a schedule of your entire work like when you are going to start, the duration of each cleaning attempt, etc.
- Ask someone to help you
Your investigation will suggest you for this step. If the density of the clutter is really heavy, then you may need someone’s help. It will be better if the helper is experienced in how to remove clutter or clean a hoard. So ask your friend or any family member who can give you support both physically and mentally in cleaning.
Remember, you cannot work alone on such a big project like clean a hoarder’s house so pick someone who can understand you the best.
- Organize plenty of cleaning supplies
Arrange all cleaning supplies before you start your work. Select an outer space like a garden area or garage for storing the cleaning product. Make a list of cleaning supplies and bring some more than the required quantity. Some necessary cleaning supplies are:
- Various size empty boxes
- Heavy-duty trash bags
- Broom and dustpan
- A vacuum cleaner with extra bags
- All-purpose cleaners or disinfectants
- Sponges, microfiber clothing, and wipes
- A set of hand tools
- Folding step ladder
Besides, for a deep clean, you may need some Commercial grade deodorization chemicals and Medical grade sanitization chemicals also.
- Ensure your safety also
Your safety is the prime thing to consider in this entire cleaning project. You and your helper need PPE for your complete protection.
- For eye protection– use basic safety goggles
- Skin protector– cotton or polyester overall or a full bodysuit
- Hand protection– try to use rubber latex gloves to protect you from chemicals or any flammable solvents.
- Respirators– you can use a standard surgical mask or an N-95 mask to protect yourself from infected biological materials.
You may have to face mold, parasites, or any other health concerns during cleaning procedures, which can affect your respiratory system. Even some flammable materials also be in the stored product, so above listed safety equipment is essential to use.
You should be alert for various poisonous pests and insects also. So include repellent spray and fire extinguishers into your safety support list. Take a flashlight if you continue your cleaning work after sunset or to reach easily any dark corner of the home.
- Planning is the most critical step
Most of the primary preparation for cleaning the hoarder’s home is done here; now, it is time for making a perfect plan to get rid of it. Usually, a hoarder is a very sensitive person, so you need to be kind-hearted with his/her feelings. Show respect and convince them to allow you to remove the clutter.
Decide where you want to start decluttering, what you should do with your trash, how to disinfect the house, and how you will repair the home. Your plan will help you to clean the hoard in a safe and organized way. You can also donate things if they are reusable. Select an area where you can store the removed stuff.
Just remember that a clean hoarder is most likely to drive a battle. Your wise plan can guide you to face a challenge like a professional cleaner.
- Start cleaning the small room
You may lose hope if you start with the largest clutter. So start your cleaning from the small room. You can go to the kitchen or bathroom at first. Most hoarder’s homes are incredibly unhygienic, which can be a cause of your health issue. So, pick a small area of the house to clean and hygiene in the shortest time. You can clean the bathroom at first because it usually does not contain so many things to remove and who knows, you may need to use it during cleaning.
- Go for the first room by the main door
After cleaning the bathroom, you should go to the first room by the main entrance. Because it will help you to make a space. Otherwise, the clutter of the inside can block you in the house.
- Start shorting
Take three boxes with you for each room. The first box for collecting absolutely rubbish. Throw them away after cleaning the room.
The second box is for those things which can be used by others. Maybe they are not necessary for this home that you are cleaning. You can donate them if anyone wants to use it.
The third one is for those things which can use after repairing or recycling. For this step, you can take help from the member of the house to decide which items are for the third box.
- Go for a regular cleaning
For a deep clean, you should remove all furniture also. Once you empty the room, clean from floor to ceiling. Use a vacuum or mop to clean each corner of the room. Do not forget to clean the light fixture, fans, and windows also.
Sanitization is one of the most important parts of cleaning a hoarder’s house. Use appropriate supplies and sanitize the entire property.
- Maintain your house
Repeat the same cleaning process for all rooms. It may take a few days to clean the complete house. Now repair the property if there is any damage. Sometimes clutter can damage the floor, furniture, door, etc. Now your home is ready to live in. Do not forget to maintain the house regularly. Remember that the hoarder clutter things for a reason, so don’t let him do it anymore.
Do not forget to inform the sanitation department of the city before you start cleaning the hoarder’s house. Many city corporations impose some authorized instructions about disposing of garbage. So notify them in advance to get a better direction if there is.
Hoarder cleaning checklist
As we already said, you should arrange all the cleaning supplies in advance if you are ready to clean a hoarder’s home. If you do not have the necessary supplies at your hand during cleaning, the work may be disrupted. Before you start your job, check the below-mentioned hoarder cleaning checklist and collect your necessary supplies.
- Some empty boxes: Collect some empty boxes and divide them into three categories. Use these boxes for collecting absolute trash, donating items, and recycling items.
- Few heavy-duty trash bags: You have dispatch plenty of rubbish when you clean a hoarder’s house. These heavy-duty trash bags can help you to though away from the garbage.
- Broom and dustpan: Use a broom and dustpan to remove loose dirt and grime from the floor and ceiling.
- Microfiber cloths/soft cleaning cloth, sponge, wipe: Microfiber cloths, or soft cleaning cloth, sponges, and wipes are essential to wipe the dust from furniture surfaces, light fixtures, books, and other things in the house.
- Buckets and mops: After removing loose dirt from the floor, use a mop to clean the entire house. It will help you to sanitize the area.
- Vacuum cleaner: A vacuum cleaner is a very useful accessory to make the house free from the last piece of dust. In fact, this equipment is essential for a deep clean. Pick your vacuum according to your floor materials.
- Disinfectants: You should use some high-power cleaning agents to make the house hygiene completely. Arrange some all-purpose cleaners or disinfectants and apply them by following the instruction on the label.
- Shovel: A shovel is another essential cleaning accessory that you may need for thronging away plenty of trash. Add at least one or more shovels to your hoarding cleaning checklist.
- A set of hand usable tools: You never estimate the actually needed accessories for hoarding cleaning. So keep a set of usable hand tools for an emergency.
- Self-protecting items: Keep yourself safe during cleaning. Collect the following safety items for you and your helper-
- Dust musk
- Disposable gloves
- Repellent spray
- First-aid box
- Fire extinguisher
- Step ladder: A step ladder is another essential piece of equipment for any house cleaning job. There is plenty of variety of step ladders available in the market. Pick your one according to the height and loaded garbage of the hoard.
- Take some extra bags: Include some extra poly bags into your checklist. Often people find the bag inadequate for throwing away garbage while handling clean chores.
We don’t think any checklist will be enough for cleaning a hoarder’s house. The above list is only to guide you to make your checklist depending on your hoarding condition and cleaning strategy.
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What is a hoarding disorder?
Hoarding is one kind of disorder where people save items excessively, which are mostly useless. A hoarder has persistent difficulty, and they continuously make clutter their house or workspaces.
We have already said that usual clutter and hoarding are not the same things. Even a hoarder is also different from collectors. Because a collector looks for some specific items like stamps, currency, model cars, etc., and stores them in an organized way. On the other hand, a hoarder often saves random, and most useless things and store them in an unorganized way.
With hoarding disorder, people save items thinking that they are valuable, may use them in the future, or have sentimental value. Normally from 2 to 6 percent of the population suffer from this disorder. Researches show that males most commonly suffer from this disorder.
6 Top signs of hoarding
Hoarding is such a type of problem that can be gone out of control within a very short time. If you identify the sign or symptoms of hoarding, it will be easy to resolve this problem. Hoarding and cluttering are not the same things. Some specific signs of hoarding are:
- Parts of your house will be full of unusual things
Normal clutter is one thing, but a compulsive hoarder usually gathers countless things that are mostly worthless and which look quite different from normal clutter. Sometimes they fill the entire house with useless objects.
- Unorganized clutter
There is no apparent organization in hoarding. Unnecessary things from the essentials, everything is kept in storage only. Everything is in chaos.
- Most of the valueless objects
It is also a common sign to identify a hoarding because a hoarder usually collects and stores most of the valueless things. Many hoarders keep old newspapers, magazines, or even clothes that they have not worn in the last few years.
- House becomes unsanitary
Just look at the above common signs of hoarding, there is no question that a hoarder’s house is the dirtiest place and unsanitary also. If you visit a hoard, you will find long-standing unwashed dishes, cluttered clothes and papers, unorganized laundry, dirty toilets, and available insects also.
- Isolate from society
Yes, a hoarder is most commonly a socially isolated person. A compulsive hoarder suffers from one kind of mental disorder. As a result, he/she feels embarrassed about their sickness. So, gradually they become isolated from society and even from their friend and family also.
- Unwillingness to remove an object
Usually, a hoarder is never ready to give up any item from their hoard. They never agree to remove any item, even a single useless object from their house. Sometimes they become uncontrollable when they come to know about removing their favorite clutter.
The 5 levels of hoarding
There are five different levels of hoarding disorder. These levels will refer to the severity of this problem. Each level of hoarding disorder will help you to understand how you should help your hoarder friend according to their condition.
Hoarding level 1
It is the least severe level of hoarding disorder. The level one hoarder’s house may include:
- Limited amount of clutter
- No noticeable bad smell
- All doors and stairways are free and accessible
- Highest three areas with animal waste in the house
The first level of hoarding includes only a few signs. As there is minimum clutter, you may fail to examine the condition.
Hoarding level 2
At this level, you will find at least one blocked exit of the house, or anyone appliance is damaged at least for six months. Sometimes the cooling, heating, or ventilation system also becomes inactive for six months or more. More characteristics of this level include:
- At least one blocked the exit
- Light pet odor
- Minimal care for birds, fish, or reptiles
- Overflowing garbage basket
- Light mildew in kitchen or bathrooms
- Dirty kitchen counter
- Evidence of household rodents
People of hoarding level 2 do not like to allow guests into their homes. Even they feel embarrassed to meet someone due to the situation in their house. At this level, the hoarder starts becoming depressed and reduces social intimacy.
Hoarding Level 3
Clutters are visible outside of the house at this level. Even normal indoor used items like furniture are also kept outdoor. Two or more broken appliances and light structural damage to at least one area of the home can be found. More characteristics of this level include:
- Clutters are visible outside of the house
- Excessive dust
- One or more unusable bathroom
- Overflowing garbage basket
- Bad smell everywhere in the house
- Tangled cords block electric supplies
- Dirty clothes, sheets, and towels
A hoarder at this level maintains very poor personal hygiene and maintain an unhealthy diet. They become very short temper if anyone specks something about their lifestyle.
Hoarding level 4
Now the house gets a look at the hoard. Noticeable mold, mildew, and grime will go everywhere in the house. At least six-month-old structural damage and bad smell refer the level 4. The bathrooms become unusable, and leftover rotten food on the kitchen surface is very common. Other characteristics of this level are:
- Sewage issues
- Unusable rooms
- Aged canned goods
- An excessive amount of spiders and webs
- All dishes and utensils are dirty
- Beds are full of lice and other bugs
- More than one block exit
- No bedsheets and covers
- Flammable things stored in the rooms
The hoarder of level 4 has very poor hygiene, and sometimes they do not take a bath even for a week. This unhealthy lifestyle makes them mentally and physically worst.
Hoarding level 5
It is the most severe stage of a hoarder. At this level, you will find several structural damages in the house. Broken walls, running water, fire hazards, no electricity, visible rodents, and other insects are very common at this level. Other characteristics of this level are:
- Clutter on every surface
- Bathrooms and kitchens are full of things
- Noticeable human feces
- More than four pets
- Leftover rotten food on the kitchen top
- Non-working refrigerator
- Most of the entire house is inaccessible
The house becomes ineligible for living at this level due to the clutter. The hoarder has noticeable signs of depression. He/she becomes totally isolated from society.
How to help a hoarder- Do’s
We hope now you can easily identify a hoarder by the above-listed signs and mark their level also. If you want to help them, here are some dos for you-
- Convince the hoarder to take help from professionals. Do not force them at all; just be kind-hearted to the sufferer and give support.
- Try to get some knowledge about hoarding before you are going to clean it. By this, you will be ready to deal with any unexpected circumstances.
- Hoarding is a mental condition like other normal diseases. You should give support and love to the sufferer to overcome it.
How to help a hoarder- Don’ts
- As a hoarder run with a mental condition, you should not pressurize them to allow you to clean the hoard. They can be tempered and create some unexpected situations.
- A hoarder is very much emotional with their clutter. So do not try to remove things without their permission.
- Hoarder’s house cleaning is a long-term project, so do not try to compete it overnight. Be prepared to deal with a hoarder at least for a few days.
- Do not allow a hoarder to restock the items that you have removed from the hoard.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How long does it take to clean a hoarder’s house?
Mostly, it depends on the mess. Usual messes can be cleaned up within a day or a few hours. But if it is a serious mess that needs a lot of energy and time, it might take you a week to clean it up.
What is the fastest way to clean a cluttered house?
The fastest way to clean a messed-up house is to make a schedule for cleaning it gradually. Take a pen and paper, make a daily cleaning routine and start working immediately! If you start cleaning daily, it would be the fastest way to fix your messed-up house.
Where do I start decluttering a hoarder’s house?
Start with taking some small steps one by one. It’s better if you start this with the most enjoyable work. For example, if you enjoy separating old clothes and other stuff, start decluttering the house first. Fix a time range every day to make it easier for you.
How do you get the smell out of a hoarder’s house?
You can use vinegar or baking soda to take away the bad smell. Simply take a spray bottle, take some vinegar or baking soda and mix with water. Spray the mixture around the corners with the help of the spray bottle. The mixture would take away the bad smell eventually.
What does a hoarder’s house smell like?
As hoarding is a psychological disorder, the person suffering from it cannot keep their houses clean and tidy. Thus, the house would be pretty messed up, the air would be thick, and there would be rotten food and old clothes everywhere. So, a hoarder’s house would smell pretty bad. It would smell like pet urine, rotten food, and old stuff.
Have you ever live in a hoarder’s house? It is quite painful to live in such an unhealthy environment. Most of the time, a hoarder cannot understand their actual situation, and it becomes tough to convince his/her to allow you to clean the hoard. We hope our above discussion will help you to identify the actual condition of a hoarder. Now it will be easy to manage the sufferer. The above cleaning guideline will also help you to clean the hoarder’s house efficiently. But if the whole situation is out of your control, do not delay to take advice from a physician. All the best.
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